This was my second attempt at making deli slices (luncheon unmeat, cold cuts, etc), and I was über-pleased at how it turned out. Unlike some recipes using wheat gluten, this doesn’t remind one of chewing on rubber bands, or bubble gum.
In the flavour department, I was attempting to duplicate Redwood’s Vegideli Sage & Onion Slices, and I believe I succeeded very well. In fact, I’m going to use this recipe to create a veggie turkey with stuffing for Christmas.
Many bloggers before me have tread the homemade vegan deli slice path. My inspiration comes from Tracy at A Vegan for Dinner and also from Vegan Dad. Tracy’s Seitan Turkey and Vegan Dad’s Hickory Smoked Veggie Turkey Lunchmeat both use the same basic ingredients (tofu & wheat gluten) that I use for these slices. However, I prefer a less firm, chewy slice, and so I use more tofu/less gluten than my fellow bloggers.
I haven’t had much luck cooking seitan in the oven. I’m not sure if it’s because gas ovens have a less even heat than electric ones, but it always seems to take much longer than the recipe instructs, and frankly I can do without having my oven on for five hours at a time, what with the price of gas being as extortionate as it is.
I was intrigued with Vegan Dad’s method for cooking his lunchmeat (he steams it for an hour, then bakes it for another 40-50 minutes). I decided instead to steam mine for two hours. This worked great; it cooked all the way through and was still nice and moist. Since I don’t like the idea of aluminium foil being in contact with the seitan when it’s cooking, I wrap it first in parchment paper, then in foil.
This slices fairly thinly, though because it’s got less gluten than other recipes, it’s a tad more crumbly. It tasted so good that after I made this yesterday, we decided to have hot turkey sandwiches for tea (American translation: supper), with homemade chips (fries) and gravy, and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts.
Today I sliced the remainder and froze it in portions for sandwich-making. In fact, I had a turkey bagel sandwich for lunch and it was damn tasty.
A few notes on ingredients.
I used Cauldron’s tofu, which comes in a 250g package. I’ve found the weight varies quite a bit, from around 235g to over 300g. So be aware of that. (It shouldn’t matter much if it’s a bit under- or overweight, though.)
The vegan chicken-style bouillon cube is a Canadian import, and it’s nigh on impossible to find veggie meat-like bouillons here in the UK, but Marigold’s vegetable bouillon tastes quite chickeny, so that would be a good substitute. You can also use bouillon powder or liquid concentrate instead of a cube; use the amount it recommends to make up 500ml (2 cups) of bouillon.
Nutritional yeast is available at health shops; it’s NOT the same as brewer’s yeast or baking yeast. I use Marigold Engevita yeast.
Vital wheat gluten is something I’ve never seen in shops in the UK. I order mine from iHerb, an American company who do incredibly cheap shipping to the UK (just $6, around £4, for up to 4 pounds in weight). I order Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Oh, right, and a cost comparison. This recipe makes 600g (1-1/3 pounds), and works out to around 25-40p per 100g (depending on whether or not you cleverly stock up on tofu when it’s on half price), which is about 1/4 the price of the ready-made stuff.
Turkey-style vegan deli slices
|30g||ground almonds||5 tablespoons|
|1||vegan chicken-style bouillon cube||1|
|1 tablespoon||soy sauce||1 tablespoon|
|3 tablespoons||mild vegetable oil||3 tablespoons|
|34g||finely chopped onion||1/4 cup|
|1 tablespoon||nutritional yeast||1 tablespoon|
|2 teaspoons||dried sage leaf||2 teaspoons|
|1 teaspoon||minced fresh garlic||1 teaspoon|
|1 teaspoon||freshly ground black pepper||1 teaspoon|
|1/4 teaspoon||dried thyme leaf||1/4 teaspoon|
|160g||vital wheat gluten flour||1 cup plus 3 tablespoons|
1. If you’re starting with whole almonds, grind them in the blender first while it’s still clean and dry, then remove and set aside.
2. Crumble the tofu into the blender. Put the bouillon cube in a glass measuring cup and add a couple tablespoons of boiling water to dissolve the cube. Add the soy sauce, then add enough water so the mixture equals 100ml (6-1/2 tablespoons). Add this to the blender.
3. Add remaining ingredients to blender EXCEPT gluten. Blenderise until completely smooth. Empty into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add gluten and mix until evenly combined. You’ll have a soft dough.
5. Turn out onto the countertop and form into a log. Wrap in baking paper or parchment paper and then in aluminium foil**. (I used a triple layer of foil as I’d read that some people have problems with the gluten bursting the foil as it cooks.) Lightly twist the ends together and tie with a couple pieces of string.
6. Bring water to boil in a pot that has a steamer insert. (I use one something like this one.) Steam for two hours over gently simmering water, turning log a quarter turn every half hour. Turn heat off and let cool for two hours.
Makes 600g (1-1/3 pounds).
** Edit 23 August 2010: I no longer use foil, instead wrapping in baking paper and then in muslin. Baking paper plus cheesecloth can also be used.